What Local Small Business Owners Need to Know This Holiday Season

What Local Small Business Owners Need to Know This Holiday Season

We’ve all seen the numbers, and we know the story: the economy is not great right now. Because of that, it’s natural to assume that retailers like Walmart and, who are often able to offer massively discounted prices, will be getting the lion’s share of the holiday shopping dollars. Not so, says a survey by Deluxe Corporation

Consumers see the importance of supporting small businesses

The Deluxe Annual Holiday Shopping Survey™, was conducted in September, 2013, and polled more than 1000 consumers nationwide about their holiday shopping plans. While 95% of respondents acknowledged that it’s important to support small, local businesses, only 35% indicated that they planned to shop at these businesses. While that may not seem like a lot, it is an increase from 27% in 2012, the first year the survey was conducted.

Small businesses need technology

Small businesses can be quaint, and some may even be old fashioned in a lot of ways. But it’s a mistake for a small businesses – even those with an established clientele – not to take advantage the power of technology to reach potential customers. The survey indicated that 78% of all shoppers will shop for their holiday purchases online, with 28% preferring a small business website. Make sure you have a website, and make sure it’s modern, up-to-date, and optimized. You want customers to be able to find you, and once they do, you want them to have a great experience, whether they visit your website, or your physical store.

And don’t forget to optimize your website for mobile devices. Plenty of people are shopping with their smartphones and tablets, and a site that isn’t optimized to work well on these devices can turn a potential customer away quickly.

Shoppers are starting earlier this year

According to the survey, 42% of shoppers plan to purchase holiday gifts in early November. This means that it’s never too early to entice potential customers with special offers in the form of gifts with purchase or discounts. Even a discount for a future purchase can drive the sale.

Consumers are looking to feel appreciated

Yes, the best price does often win in the end. And many small businesses simply can’t compete with the buying power of large retail chains. But, because people are becoming more aware of the importance of local businesses, consumers are eager to patronize their local businesses – provided the experience is a good one. Make sure that customers and potential customers have a positive experience in every interaction with you – whether online or in person. Offer them an experience they can’t get from the faceless corporations.

Don’t forget social media

You may not be a huge fan of Facebook or Twitter, but they do have value for small businesses. It doesn’t cost anything to use Facebook or Twitter, and they allow you to provide special offers to your fans and followers. For example, if your store will stock a “hot” item this season, you can let people know when it will be arriving at your store, so they can make arrangements to pick it up. Or maybe you have a restaurant, and you know that Tuesday is typically your slowest day. Why not offer your Facebook fans and/or your Twitter followers a special discount on that day? And a lot of younger shoppers are using Foursquare – you could offer some sort of special for anyone who “checks in” at your store. These are just a few examples of how you can leverage social media.

And make an effort to get information from your customers. Names, addresses, telephone numbers, and especially email addresses can come in handy when you’re trying to build relationships that will keep your customers coming back.

Good luck – may you have a prosperous holiday season!

Nov 12, 2013

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